May/June 2019
In This Issue
State Stories - Alaska & Florida
  Topics of the Month -  IAQ, Home Safety, & Hazardous Products
DirectorDirector's Update

Welcome to the summer newsletter for the Healthy Homes Partnership (HHP). As I write this month's column, I'm in the Caribbean with Kandace and stakeholders working on updating Healthy Homes Caribbean guides. While here, I'm also working with various stakeholders in the Midwest recovering from tornadoes, including those in my home state. The new normal seems to be overlapping natural disasters in the US.
This summer will also be the official 20th anniversary of the Healthy Homes Partnership. I would like to especially thank Dr. Laura Booth, who led the program before me. In the last 20 years, HHP has developed curriculum and training programs, as well as provided crucial healthy homes information to thousands of stakeholders and millions of consumers that is science based and peer-reviewed. I also want to thank the numerous state program leaders, as well as their extension and outreach support for this successful program. Finally, a special thanks to Beverly Samuel at USDA-NIFA and Kitt Rodkey at HUD OLHCHH for their funding of the program and national leadership.
This month the newsletter has important information on the upcoming National Healthy Homes Month (June), including many webinars and the 2019 NHHM toolkit. Until next newsletter, have a healthy and safe National Healthy Homes Month.

Michael Goldschmidt, National Director - Healthy Homes Partnership
HUD HH Happenings

National Healthy Homes Month 2019 (June) is right around the corner! This campaign is coordinated by HUD OLHCHH; we work closely together with HHP on outreach throughout the month.
Our theme Growing Up Safe and Healthy: 5 Minutes to a Healthy Home, promotes awareness of potential indoor environmental health hazards, and simple actions that residents can take in a short time to address many of them. We also want to encourage our partners to spread the word. This year's digital toolkit is designed for partners to reach out in their local communities, especially to assist residents living in low to moderate income housing. There are many actions residents can do, at low or no cost, to address indoor hazards.

Please visit the NHHM 2019 website for more insights on implementing healthy homes practices at the local level, as well as access to the Partner Toolkit, and check out the webinar schedule under the Events section below.

For more information, please contact Kitt Rodkey at
State Stories

Art Nash

Spring has been busy for Alaska Extension as there's still a lot of left over concerns from our end of the November earthquake. Though the main event was in a minute category, the results have gotten many homeowners to think about their air and water quality.

My first-hand earthquake story:  An Extension agent and I had just conducted HH presentations for dozens of tribes in Anchorage, when the power went out for much of the city. This impeded traffic, left gas stations helpless in distributing fuel, and sent law enforcement dangerously close to a smoking transformer in the downtown sector. A sewer main was broken at my conference hotel and repeated tsunami warnings could be heard on the radio. 

Concern was voiced early on about home conditions (and the integrity of the port which handles 3/4 of the state's food). The airport was down all day, and when flights resumed, many gate computers where not up nor were all the lights on. There were two Extension-related conferences at taller downtown hotels that left many people from remote tribal villages stuck with elevators that didn't operate, and many stranded with no flights back to their home communities. 

I texted our state office for the social media unit to immediately post our peer reviewed, digital publications on radon, healthy homes and natural disasters/emergencies. This urgent request was prompted in part by the concerns from people calling in and reporting on the local AM station.

Surprising controversy: An initial recommendation to test for radon was put out via my social media venues and a press release to media outlets statewide the week following the quake. This occurred on the cusp of substantial staff staff changes due to recent gubernatorial elections, and the radon testing recommendation was questioned by some in state government amidst this transition. 

The verbiage used was taken directly from the 2014 national construction standards developed by the American Assoc. of Radon Scientists and Technicians. Although this was protocol which EPA and CDC adopted as their formal position, it was not publicly declared. So, Extension immediately developed an outreach workshop schedule to be delivered in Anchorage with an emphasis on subsurface HH hazards for both air and water quality.

The Associated Press picked up the press release and it was published in 20+ news outlets worldwide. Calls followed from residents as well as discussions per the protocol after an earthquake with EPA-related staff in Seattle and Georgia. Over the next several months, hundreds of questions on testing and home repair on visible breeches which could be seen amidst carpeting, tile flooring, drywall, paneling, etc, were answered. I spoke with a state senator who included the information through her newsletter to constituents in the area hit. 

Messaging continued with the months' aftershocks to check for possible fissures which may not be clearly seen, and that soil voids caused by the earthquake well below the surface of the ground floor could act as avenues for release of radon gas. 

From tribal events such as the Alaska Tribal Conference on Environmental Health that had just finished when the earthquake hit, to the recent Bering Straits Regional Energy Summit where we share the health connections with energy efficiency and weatherization, the continual message from Alaska Cooperative Extension is that the only way to know if there is a radon contamination problem (or arsenic in the well water) is to test! From there we can offer solution strategies from the least invasive to total mitigation options from the best of building science and the Extension Healthy Homes Partnerships knowledge base!

Art Nash, Energy Specialist and Alaska State Indoor Radon Grant Manager
Associate Professor - School of Natural Resources and Extension
University of Alaska Fairbanks


We all have day-to-day responsibilities, and most of us have households to manage. Sometimes you can get run down trying to keep up with it all. We, at the University of Florida IFAS Extension who are working on the Homeflow program, believe this is one of the keys to reducing factors that trigger stress to occur in our homes.  

Eight extension agents from 7 counties across Florida deliver the program in local communities. The Homeflow curriculum is a research-based set of modules that provide specific steps to help the home and its occupants function smoothly and efficiently. 
Recent census data shows there is a growing presence of Hispanics in Florida. Thus, it's evident that to provide the Homeflow program to as many as possible, one of the most efficient methods is to translate its videos and instructional guide into Spanish.  

Fortunately, UF/IFAS Extension agents are quite versatile. Each of the agents participating on the Homeflow grant in Orange, Osceola, and Manatee counties are bilingual, and are in the process of translating all of the educational materials into Spanish. Our hope is to make the program available to the vast majority of Hispanics in those counties, and cause demand for it in others areas such as Lee County, where requests have been made for Homeflow via its Habitat for Humanity affiliate but could not be granted because of the language barrier.
Once the final video prompter version is complete this summer, those agents will come to the UF campus to record the Homeflow videos again, using the original ADA-compliant Powerpoint slideshow while they re-record it into Spanish. All 3 counties will host workshops for their Hispanic audiences and promote Homeflow among other government agencies as well. Once participant feedback is received in these 3 pilot counties, we will roll the translated version out to all Florida counties. We expect an increase in knowledge and best practices geared towards healthy skills that will empower these participants to make changes toward improving the flow and subsequent well-being of their home and occupants.

Randall A. (Randy) Cantrell, PhD
Faculty Member: Housing & Community Development Specialist
College of Ag and Life Sciences; FYCS Dept; University of Florida
Topics of the Month: IAQ, Home Safety and Hazardous Products

Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)

Common IAQ Problems
While multi-family housing owners and building professionals recognize the importance of IAQ, they do not always appreciate how routine design and construction decisions can result in IAQ problems. Common problems are:
  • IAQ not considered during design and construction. Basic design decisions related to site selection, building orientation, location of outdoor air intakes and how the building will be heated, cooled and ventilated are critical to good IAQ. Efforts to achieve high levels of building performance without diligent consideration of IAQ at the beginning of the design process can lead to IAQ problems and represent missed opportunities to ensure good IAQ.
  • Lack of commissioning. While a good design is critical to providing good IAQ, improper installation can seriously compromise it. A key factor in achieving good IAQ is a serious commitment to comprehensive commissioning (a quality assurance process of testing and verifying that everything operates as intended) that starts in the design phase and continues into occupancy. This effort should include a focus on commissioning systems and assemblies critical to good IAQ.  
  • Moisture in building assemblies. Many IAQ problems are associated with excessive moisture, particularly in the building envelope. That can lead to mold growth that is difficult to fix without major renovation efforts and costs. Moisture problems arise for a variety of reasons, including roof leaks, leaks at windows, envelope design and construction defects (such as vinyl wallpaper or other low permeability interior walls finishes in hot and humid climates) and unbalanced air pressures. These problems are largely avoidable, but require an understanding of building moisture movement, attention to detail in envelope design and construction, and in mechanical system selection, installation, and operation.
Other common sources of poor IAQ include:
  • Poor outdoor air quality.
  • Moisture and dirt in ventilation systems.
  • Indoor contaminant sources.
  • Contaminants from indoor equipment and activities.
  • Inadequate ventilation rates.
  • Ineffective filtration and air cleaning.
Verified approaches to avoid those IAQ problems include the following solution categories :
  • Manage the Design and Construction Process to Achieve Good IAQ
  • Control Moisture in Building Assemblies
  • Limit Entry of Outdoor Contaminants
  • Control Moisture and Contaminants Related to Mechanical Systems
  • Limit Contaminants from Indoor Sources
  • Capture and Exhaust Contaminants from Building Equipment and Activities
  • Reduce Contaminant Concentrations through Ventilation, Filtration, and Air Cleaning
  • Apply More Advanced Ventilation Approaches.
These problems and solutions are discussed more in-depth in the  Indoor Air Quality Guide: Best Practices for Design, Construction and Commissioning, which can be purchased here, along with the downloadable primer.

Home Safety and Hazardous Products

Unexpected Household Hazards

Pools. Numerous issues need to be considered before building residential pools:
  • location of overhead power lines
  • installation and maintenance of ground fault circuit interrupters
  • electrical system grounding
  • electrical wiring sizing
  • location of the pool
  • type of vegetation near the pool

The commonly used solar covers that rest on the surface of a pool and amplify sunlight do an excellent job of increasing the pool temperature, but they also increase the risk for drowning. If children or pets fall in and sink below the cover, it can be nearly impenetrable if they attempt to surface under it.


Winterizing the pool also can be hazardous.  The water in most below-ground pools is seldom drained because of groundwater pressure that can damage the structure of the pool. A pool cover is commonly installed to keep debris and leaves out of the pool in winter. However, a pool cover becomes an excellent mosquito-breeding area because of the decomposing vegetation and rain that accumulates on it during  winter, and the eggs laid on the pool cover in early fall and early spring.


A pool cover provides these ideal conditions for mosquitoes to breed:

  • stagnant water
  • protection from wind that can sink floating eggs
  • the near absence of predators
  • warm water created by the pool cover collecting heat just below the surface

Current epidemiologic evidence indicates that correctly constructed and operated swimming pools are not a major public health problem. They are preferable to bathing beaches because of the engineered controls designed into pools. Poorly designed or operated pools, however, can be major hazards.  Data from the CDC between 1999 and 2000 show that 59 disease outbreaks from 23 states were attributed to recreational water exposure and affected an estimated 2,093 people. 

Spas and Hot Tubs. Hot tubs or spas are used for pleasure and are increasingly being recommended for therapy. Newer models often have both ozone and ultraviolet light emitters for enhanced disinfection. However, the environment of the hot tub, if not cleaned and operated correctly, can become a culture medium for microorganisms. Because the warm water is at the ideal temperature for growth of microorganisms, good disinfection is critical.

It is essential that all equipment works properly and that the units are cleaned and disinfected on a routine basis. Monitoring the water temperature is very important and, depending on the health of the user, can be a matter of life and death. Time in the heated water should be limited, and the temperature for pregnant users should be below 103°F (39°C) to protect the unborn baby.

More info can be found in the Healthy Housing Reference Manual, downloadable here.
SocialSnacksSocial Snacks

Here are short posting ideas on the topic of the month that you can use in your social media outreach to consumers. 


PLEASE FEED ME!   If you use social media for HH outreach, please send us your posts that produce big  reach  numbers  to share in a future newsletter.
#DidYouKnow 85% of all US fire deaths occur in the home. Thanks in part to successful fire injury prevention activities (such as smoke alarms and fire safety education) deaths and injuries caused by residential fires have declined for several decades. However, many residential fire-related deaths are preventable and continue to pose a significant public health problem.

For more information on fire injury and prevention, check out the  U.S. Fire Administration's website. 
True/False:  Indoor air contaminants can cause more damage than outdoor air.

True!  The range of indoor air pollutants includes VOCs, phthalates, PBDEs, mold, pollen, pet dander, radon, and more. Most of these qualify as fine or ultra-fine particulate matter that are easily inhaled and can pass into the bloodstream, and even cross the blood-brain barrier. Learn how to ensure healthy indoor air in your home at 
Are you looking for information on your state's IAQ laws or policies? The Environmental Law Institute (ELI) provides information about state policies and programs on a variety of IAQ-related topics. These materials and resources are available free from ELI's Indoor Environments and Green Buildings Program portal, where you can browse a variety of topics and publications. ELI materials are organized into five areas: mold, radon, homes/landlord-tenant, schools/childcare, and green buildings.
GOT NEWS?  Send it  to us! Share any  news and resources of interest to other HHP partners!

Check out the NHHM 2019 Digital Tookit! The purpose of this toolkit is to help partners prepare and promote activities or events at the local level. It has been created to assist partners with messaging, implementation ideas, and resources. Many of these resources can be custo mized to reach a wide variety of audiences, including parents, caregivers, contractors, hardware stores, trade associations, the media, and others.
HUD's Lead Paint Safety Field Guide has been updated. This guide is a valuable tool that thousands of workers and contractors across the country have used as part of a national effort to eliminate childhood lead poisoning.  Sample content includes key stages of a job, surface prep, cleaning up, checklists, and an extensive resource section. It also includes unique illustrations depicting steps for proper maintenance.

The PDF can be accessed here or dial 1-800-424-5323 for hardcopies via the National Lead Information Center.
EPA announced the  Smoke Sense mobile application update is now live on Android and iOS devices for use by the public to protect their health from wildland fire smoke. 

If you have the previous version, be sure to update the app.  If you are a new user, visit the link above to download the app for free from Google Play Store and the Apple App Store.
HUD's new Healthy Homes Youth App  is available to help middle-schoolers learn about potential household contaminants such as lead, mold, radon, or VOC's. This App helps kids learn about their home's indoor environment, focusing on actions they can take to have a healthy home. Downloadable from the App Store for customers with devices running iOS 11 or later, and macOS 10.13 or later.
The HUD  Healthy Homes Basics mobile app  offers practical how-to guidance on how to have a safe and healthy home, right at your fingertips. The app offers introductory information and guidance for consumers by teaching the "Principles of a Healthy Home." For those users more familiar with healthy homes concepts, the app features detailed information by topic. It's available on Apple, iTunes, and Google Play app stores.
Everyone Deserves a Safe and Healthy Home consumer action guide is the updated and shortened HHP publication that replaces Help Yourself to a Healthy Home. For each HH subtopic is a brief description of the Hazard, Health Effects and Source along with a checklist of actions to take to protect health. The new 12-page format can be economically printed, and has a checklist that can be duplicated on a single sheet of paper for mass distribution. This resources can be used in conjunction with lesson plans available in the Healthy Homes toolkit.
Everyone Deserves a Safe and Healthy Home stakeholder guide is a 40-page publication designed for professionals that serve families through consultation or outreach. This guide can be used to educate, assess, advocate, train, and set standards and policy on healthy homes for their organizations. This resources can be used in conjunction with lesson plans available in the Healthy Homes toolkit.
The HUD website is a valuable source of information and links to upcoming healthy home events, news, resources, programs, popular topics and more -- including the Healthy Home Basics mobile app and educational videos.
The HUD Healthy Homes Disaster Recovery Toolkit is available online as a free PDF. Contents include links to recovery and response videos, the Rebuild Healthy Homes how-to guidebook, fact sheets for consumers, stakeholders and pros in English and Spanish, HUD contacts and more. 
UpcomingEventsUpcoming Events
This year's  HUD Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes webinars support NHHM's theme of Growing Up Safe and Healthy - 5 Minutes to a Healthy Home This overarching theme promotes awareness of potential indoor environmental health hazards, and simple actions that residents can take in a short time to address many of them. Self-assessments can be done with little or no equipment and without a housing professional being present. More intensive assessments can be held as follow-ups. Click here for more info.

National Healthy Home Month Webinars 

Kickoff to NHHM 2019: Growing up Safe and Healthy- 5 Minutes to a Healthy Home. -  May 28, 2:00 pm Eastern -  Presenter is Shannon Steinbauer. How can stakeholders use Healthy Homes resources/tools to reach new partners in just 5 Minutes?  Click here to register.

Using Valuable Resources from the Healthy Homes PartnershipJune 4, 2:00 pm Eastern - Presenter is Michael Goldschmidt. This webinar will introduce new NHHM participants to, and update those familiar with, the many helpful resources offered through OLHCHH's interagency agreement with USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture's healthy homes educator network (based at select land grant universities around the United States). Click here to register.

Improving Your Home EnvironmentJune 5, 11:00 am Eastern - Presenter is Selina Lujan. Focus is how indoor Air quality can be addressed with home assessment; how to get started in 5 minutes! Click here to register.

HUD's Lead Paint Safety Field Guide June 6, 2:00 pm Eastern - Presenters are Warren Friedman and Bruce Haber. This webinar will focus on the new version of the publication, released by HUD/OLHCHH in February 2019. Click here to register.

Home Visits are Needed to Address Asthma Health Disparities in AdultsJune 11, 11:00 AM Eastern - Presenters are Joy Hsu, Helen Margellos-Anast, and David Turcotte. Focus discusses how addressing asthma in adults includes home assessment too, and how to get started in 5 minutes! Click here to register.

Implementing Healthy Homes Principles and Practices in Disaster Recovery and RebuildingJune 18, 11:00 am Eastern - Presenters are Michael Goldschmidt, Graham McCaulley, Lisa Goldschmidt, and Kandace Fisher-McLean. This webinar will cover the new disaster recovery/rebuilding curriculum developed by USDA NIFA, as well as other resources available to the disaster recovery community. Click here to register.

Serving Native Americans with Healthy Homes ResourcesJune 20, 2:00 pm Eastern - Presenters are Michael Goldschmidt and Art Nash. This webinar will highlight four new tribal publications and related app being developed through OLHCHH and USDA NIFA, with extensive input from a cross section of stakeholders and tribes. The webinar will briefly describe the process used to develop these educational materials and the prototype tribal app, and delivery/dissemination plan. Click here to register.

Other Events:

NEHA 2019 Annual Educational Conference (AEC) & Exhibition July 9-12, 2019 in Nashville, TN
The National Environmental Health Assoc. brings together professionals to learn and discuss current and emerging environmental health topics and issues. Discover how the local voices of agencies, industries, and levels of government provide unique perspectives and how they fit into the universal language of environmental health. Learn how these voices ensure the safety of the public and environment, and how they contribute to the advancement of the environmental health profession. Click here to register.

EEBA High Performance Home Summit - October 1-3, 2019 in Denver, CO
Building the Future: Solutions for Healthy, Resilient and Affordable High-Performance Homes is the theme of this year's Energy & Environmental Building Alliance summit.  Sessions will present the latest in building science, combined with real-world application and problem-solving. Presentations will cover topics of special interest including:
  • Defining, building and selling a Healthy Home
  • Resilience in the Built Environment
  • Building the Home of the Future with Innovation, Cost Efficiencies and Sustainability
  • Water Efficiency & Conservation

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Good Health Starts at Home  builds upon the Healthy Homes initiatives and partnership of the United States Department of Agriculture-National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA-NIFA) and the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development-Office of Healthy Homes and lead Hazard Control (HUD) that address housing-based health and safety risks. Its network of state coordinators have partnered with state agencies, medical professionals, schools, and community groups to educate families on home health hazards.

Healthy Homes Highlights is produced by LSU AgCenter's LaHouse Resource Center. Authors: Claudette Hanks Reichel, Professor and Extension Housing Specialist, and Haley Moore, LaHouse Program Assistant.